William Collier- Regardless of HOW and WHY we, the US, got to this place of Russian revanchism, which was certainly goaded on by the would-be globalist hegemonic ruling class of the West, the situation now is that Russsia has become a hazard to our country and its allies. We can leave for future articles how we the freedom-loving masses ought to deal with our own corrupt ruling class who are to blame for this and focus for now on how we, as the US, might contend with the Putinistas, basically Putin and the oligarchs who support him.
We can start with the premise that Putin’s strength comes from a 60% to 70% approval among the Russian people because, basically, although it’s never quite as simple as this, he is viewed as a strong man and Russians, in the main, but not all Russians, adore the strong and despise the weak. There may be many reasons for this, but in general, when a leader is seen as strong they enjoy support, even if in character and in how they treat the Russian people, they are corrupt and evil.
This may SOMEWHAT be shifting as more and more Russians do not cotton to such thinking, but among most, among at least 60% if polling is accurate, it still holds that “strong is good and weak is bad.”
Keep this in mind.
Next, let’s consider three other factors: Russia has a basically under-developed and corrupt economic system, Russia is essentially a gas station, and the only real power Russia has is their nuclear arms.
So now we have four key things: Russians support the strong and hate the weak, Russia has an underdeveloped economy due to massive corruption, Russia’s only economic asset is gas and oil, and the only real military strength they have is nuclear arms.
The Putinistas are authoritarian and corrupt. While they cater to the Russian nationalist sentiment and some rightly see them as a counter to the West’s vision of a globalist corporate-government hegemony that is directly against nationalist sovereignty, the Putinistas are mostly for themselves first. Perhaps in Putin’s mind he and his cronies ARE the living embodiment of Russia, but the net effect is all wealth and power centers on Moscow and to hell with everyone else.
Add to all this that we, as in the US, have other fish to fry, as it were. We face threats in many quartets.
Internally we have this corporate-led assault on our history and way of life through the cancel-culture wokatariate and their rather intolerant behavior toward anyone who refuses to ditch their Judeo-Christian values for the new alt-gendered fantasy they call progress. On the other hand we have a reactionary core who, in response to this, are embracing things like identitarianism and either racial separatism or racial supremacism, and this could grow.
But externally we have threats coming from places like Iran and China, North Korea, Pakistan, Cuba, and Venezuela, among others.
Thankfully, at this time, our internal and external threats haven’t unified. The true powers, as in the actual shot-callers behind each of these threats, are as much against each other as they may be a threat to the people of the United States of America.
With all this in mind, how do we, as in the US, counter Putin and his cronies?
At the basic level we have to seek ways, in every possible arena, to make him and his cronies look weak and powerless. His chosen arena is Ukraine and while countering him there may be important, as we analyze all the arenas Russia must operate in we will find many opportunities to out Putin on his back foot.
First, there is the more obvious fact Russia depends on energy exportation. Second, there are Russian goals in Syria whose regime Putin props up. Third, there is the Russian defense industry which exports weapons all over the world. Fourth, there are Russian territories claimed by Japan and China. Fifth, there are Russian economic and investment schemes in Africa.
All these vulnerabilities present opportunities to bring pain to bear and make Putin look weak.
In Syria, for instance, and with Iran as her ally, Russia has severe disadvantages if we care to exploit them. The US can shut Iran off from all exports and imports via the sea. The US can arm anti-Assad forces in Syria while Russia cannot bring seaborn reinforcements as long as the war in Ukraine is happening. These moves would potentially force the Russians out of Syria and would demonstrate how Russia could do nothing to help their ally Iran.
As for Ukraine itself, efforts to continue to supply Ukraine with anti-air and anti-armor weapons and munitions should continue apace, albeit through many points and not via massive convoys the Russians can bomb. The erosion of Russian military might in Ukraine plays into a narrative that Putin is weak.
Now let’s consider all the places where Russia is vulnerable internally and use our covert means to foment trouble on every periphery. Russia has a substantial and growing, and disaffected, Muslim minority, some of whom may feel strongly that Russia is their foe. Russia has cordial relations with the Central Asian countries, this is something we ought to be undermining.
We can support the opposition in Belarus and Khazajstan, for instance, and foment unrest at a time when Russia cannot spare forces to put them down.
Instead of thinking holistically about a global response on Russia’s periphery, the present US administration, whose policies in line with past Presidents have goaded the Russians into attacking Ukraine, are thinking in a very limited and one-dimensional way. They are actually perpetuating the mythos of Putin as a strong man who they are powerless to stop because it might “escalate” things. Having goaded the Russians we are now saying we don’t want to escalate things further with them lest they unleash nuclear holocaust.
It would have been better to counsel the Ukrainians to pursue strong neutrality, to cool their ambitions to join the EU and NATO, and to actually invest in a credible air defense, which they neglected up until now. As for whether or not the US actually operates or funds biolabs and whether or not they are former Soviet labs or present-day bioweapons programs, the activities of the US, under Fauci’s management, in these things remains suspect.
But, be that as it may, the mythos of Russia as being 10 feet tall and Putin being beyond our reach stems from the fact we are playing in his sandbox and on his terms instead of taking a holistic approach. Goading the Russians into a war that is spiraling out of control was bad policy, but now that we have, the question is, “should we retreat and let Putin be the strong man or should we take the battle into arenas where he is helpless?”
Undermining Putin’s standing as a strong man is the easiest way to depict him as weak and undermine his support among his people but, most importantly, his fellow oligarchs.
The fact the US is not taking a holistic view of limiting Putin’s power and is not encouraging peace in Ukraine based on neutrality may prove that the people pulling the levers of power in Washington today aren’t really doing so in the interest of the American people.